The Embrace of Randy Travis by the Texas Music Scene
Country Music Hall of Famer Randy Travis was born and raised in North Carolina, and made his name in Nashville, first by taking the stage at the Nashville Palace between frying catfish and washing dishes, and later as a neotraditional superstar who busted doors down, and eventually paved the way for the “Class of ’89” (Garth, Alan, Clint, and Travis Tritt) to do their thing.
But lately here it’s been Texas where Randy Travis has not only made his home, but been embraced as part of the community. After divorcing his long-time manager and wife Elizabeth Hatcher in 2010 after a 19-year relationship, Randy Travis moved to the Chrysalis Ranch in Tioga, TX, north of the Dallas/Fort Worth area with his soon-to-be-wife Mary. A few years later in 2013 is when Randy suffered his severe stroke that continues to impair his ability to perform.
From his perch in Texas though, Randy Travis has embraced numerous of the Texas artists as a mentor and a champion as best he can. Though still unable to get around well, wife Mary has made a point to make sure Randy remains a part of the music community, regularly appearing at venues in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and in nearby Oklahoma for shows.
As an example, Randy Travis made a surprise appearance at Heritage Hall in Ardmore, Oklahoma for a Cody Jinks show in January of 2019. Shortly after Jinks performed “Diggin’ Up Bones,” Randy surprised Cody Jinks by coming out on stage. Accompanied by his wife Mary, Randy personally thanked Cody Jinks as Jinks humbly took his hat off and the crowd began to chant in unison, “Randy! Randy! Randy!”
Then Mary told the assembled crowd,“[Remember] when George Jones said, ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?’ He said Randy Travis. And I just want to tell you tonight, when people ask us who is gonna fill Randy Travis’s shoes, [it’s] Cody Jinks.”
Randy Travis also gave a shout out to Cody Jinks in his biography, Forever and Ever, Amen, so no, Mary was not embellishing. And even though Randy’s ability to speak remains impaired, the country legend is otherwise cognitively sound, and is able to communicate his feeling and opinions to those around him.
A similar scene went down on Saturday, January 9th when The Josh Abbott Band was playing a socially distanced show at “The World’s Largest Honky Tonk” a.k.a Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, and Randy Travis showed up on stage unexpectedly. Josh Abbott serenaded Randy with an acoustic version of “Forever and Ever, Amen,” with the crowd singing along, and everyone going wild after the conclusion (see video below).
“Like all of you, I grew up on the music of Randy Travis. He’s a legend,“ said Josh Abbott, who released his latest album The Highway Kind in November, and is also part of The Panhandlers supergroup. “This song was my wife & and I’s ‘send-off dance’ at our wedding. For him to come to our show and us have this moment, it’s just special. I’m soaking this one in.”
Travis has been making other such surprise appearances in Texas and Oklahoma since moving to the region. But what might be most surprising is what’s been happening on Texas radio lately.
In July of 2020, Randy Travis released a new song called “Fool’s Love Affair.” The song was unearthed by SiriusXM DJ and former music publisher Charlie Monk. Before Randy Travis signed his major label deal, he signed up with Monk Family Music as a songwriter. Charlie Monk co-wrote “Fool’s Love Affair” with Keith Stegall, who was also an early champion of Randy Travis when much of Music Row considered Randy “too country.” Randy Travis was tapped to sing on the demo of “Fool’s Love Affair,” and that’s how the song came into being.
In 2019 when cleaning out his office, Charlie Monk found the original multitrack master tape of the song from the early 80’s. From there they were able to isolate Randy’s vocals, and add new music to the demo which gave renewed life to “Fool’s Love Affair.”
The release of “Fool’s Love Affair” was not just about releasing another unearthed Randy Travis single. Those following the Randy Travis story know that he really received the short end of the stick when it comes to his business affairs since his former wife Lib Hatcher also had power of attorney and other privileges over Randy’s entire catalog. The release of the song was an attempt to help give second life to the Randy Travis legacy, and make sure he doesn’t go forgotten like so many country music greats.
Along with the song release, radio station networks such as Cumulus, iHeartRadio, Townsquare, Entercom, and SiriusXM signed on to play the song on Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 to celebrate the anniversary of Randy’s first radio single. Many country media outlets and big-named artists also helped to promote the song.
But that was about the extend of the support behind “Fool’s Love Affair,” except in Texas. Texas regional radio has continued to embrace the single, even as the rest of the country music sphere moved on. This week, “Fool’s Love Affair” sits at #8 on the Texas Regional Radio Chart, right above Aaron Watson’s “Silverado Saturday Night.”
Of course, Texas regional radio does not have nearly the reach of its mainstream counterpart. But it does illustrate how the Texas music scene has embraced the great Randy Travis, and is returning the favor for what he’s done not just for country music, but for the rising and established stars that Randy has put his name behind in the region. Also, “Fool’s Love Affair” happens to be a really good song.
Randy Travis wasn’t born or raised in Texas, nor did he launch his career from the state like so many of country music’s finest. But he’s in Texas now, and the state couldn’t be more proud.
January 13, 2021 @ 11:22 am
Pardi’s “Head over Boots” was inspired by “Forever and Ever, Amen”.
The writers of that song traveled to a Texas dance hall & were inspired to write Head Over Boots there, with Travis being an inspiration!
January 13, 2021 @ 12:05 pm
I still have that track in rotation at Bus of Real Country and often pair it with Josh Turner’s version of Forever & Ever Amen
January 13, 2021 @ 12:15 pm
Thank you, Trigger!
January 13, 2021 @ 2:44 pm
Reminds me of the Lyle Lovett song that goes “…that’s right you’re not from Texas, Texas wants you anyway…”
January 13, 2021 @ 2:58 pm
I believe a lot of this blog’s followers, especially younger ones, have no idea how monumentally influential Randy Travis was when he appeared on the country music scene. I remember hearing “On The Other Hand” during its first half hearted release in the summer of 1985. I had to beg the dj to play it again so I could record it off the radio. It disappeared immediately, leaving me to wonder how program directors could keep their jobs. Fortunately Travis’ talent was undeniable, “Storms Of Life” was a monster, “On The Other Hand” was rereleased and Randy almost single handedly changed the direction of country music. Many years later, thanks to SCM, I found Travis’ version of the Buddy Jewell/Thom McHugh song “One In A Row.” To me, it was the best classic country song I’d heard in years (Jewell’s version is great, too). What a tragedy this voice has been silenced. Nice to hear he still gets out and is so appreciated by artists half his age.
January 13, 2021 @ 3:48 pm
Agreed. Randy Travis did indeed turn the direction of the pop-country ship back to a form much closer to its roots. At that exact same time, 1986, Dwight Yoakam also made a huge impact on the music, bringing that Bakersfield Twang sound back to radio. I really credit Randy and Dwight more than anyone else with taking back the industry. In recent years, Ive rekindled my own interest in Travis. For example, I bought Storms of Life on vinyl, and intend on picking up his other great albums. I wish there was a way for him to make money these days, but it sounds like hes not getting royalties anymore from his catalog. If that’s true, how dreadful.
January 13, 2021 @ 4:17 pm
I’m in that cohort. Travis and Garth are the two earliest memories of music that I have from my childhood, and I’m really glad I came back to Travis later in life when I could appreciate it a lot more.
I’m sure I’m not alone, but proud to say that “Forever and Ever, Amen” was the first dance song for my wife and I at our wedding.
January 13, 2021 @ 8:38 pm
“Travis and Garth”. How dare you use both names in the same sentence.
January 13, 2021 @ 9:40 pm
Haha swear to God, I had a kids sized broom that I used to pretend was a guitar and I’d play it to “Ain’t Goin’ Down”.
Not ashamed – I was also like 5.
But yeah, “Ain’t Goin Down”, Travis’ “Deeper Than The Holler”, and John Michael Montgomery’s “Sold” are the 3 that stand out in my mind from early childhood.
Lynda L. Helms
January 15, 2021 @ 10:50 am
Randy Travis has my vote 100%! Here’s proof: There was 2 Billings in West Va.on the same day — one was Randy, & the other was Garth. My mother liked both, I liked Randy — Randy WON!!! The only
regret is that we didn’t get to meet him. I still have a chance, but my mother, who has passed will have to wait awhile. God
is still Blessing him! A-A-men!
October 24, 2022 @ 5:47 pm
Almost singlehandedly changed the direction of country music? Now I’m a Randy Travis fan, but even I don’t exaggerate that much, lol. George Strait was king of country at that time, and still is in my book, so even good ole Randy couldn’t mess with that. Randy will always be up there among the greats.
January 13, 2021 @ 4:12 pm
You can still see the passion in Randy’s eyes as if he’s saying “I still got one more in me” when he’s watching guys like Jinks, Tom Buller and Jon Bowlin sing. I hope there’s a treasure full of unreleased music out there that makes its way to the public soon.
January 13, 2021 @ 5:39 pm
The sequestered songwriters also did a tribute night to him this past summer, which Jinks is a part of. Cody played “He Walked On Water” while sitting next to Randy and Mary at their house that night with them.
January 13, 2021 @ 8:35 pm
“Those following the Randy Travis story know that he really received the short end of the stick when it comes to his business affairs since his former wife Lib Hatcher also had power of attorney and other privileges over Randy’s entire catalog.”
She is a witch and a modern-day Jezebel. Completely pathetic.
January 15, 2021 @ 12:28 pm
@wayne. It was Randy’s choice to maintain that bizarre relationship. Not sure what her hold over him came from.
January 13, 2021 @ 11:20 pm
Nice to hear that Texas is embracing Randy! Like a few others have already mentioned, Randy was still a regular presence on the radio while I was growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and he has always been one of my favorites from that point on. Just about any song he released from 1986-1992 is like a soundtrack to my early childhood. Ricky Van Shelton (another great artist from that era who doesn’t get nearly as much recognition today) was another one of my early favorites and was still one of the top neo-traditional guys at the time. I’ve pretty much been listening to that late 80’s/early 90’s country sweet spot non-stop these past few months, and I’m still amazed at how many great songs and artists came out during that period. Even many of the artists who didn’t make it quite as big had some great music to offer. I’m truly thankful that I was around during that time when traditional country was actually the hottest thing on the radio. It’s certainly influenced my taste in music to this day, as neo-traditional country is still my favorite kind of country.
January 14, 2021 @ 11:00 am
I recall listening to a concert by a new country singer and immediately paying attention as the singing was so country. It was late 80s and he was singing On the Other Hand, Diggin’ Up Bones etc. One of the greatest country singers of all time.
January 14, 2021 @ 1:48 pm
Texans have undoubtedly the best musical taste, among American people. This video is amazing, as was the video with Cody Jinks. God bless Randy Travis.
January 15, 2021 @ 9:20 am
Saw Randy in concert in Jackson Michigan in I’m sure 80’s . I have always loved his music and and still do . Stay safe Randy and Mary
January 16, 2021 @ 5:18 am
father God in the name jesus i pray that heal completely Mr randy travis such beautiful music and a beautiful heart love country music thanks excuse the writing and God bless his family
January 20, 2021 @ 10:04 pm
January 20, 2021 @ 10:03 pm
Thanks for this.